How Do I Cope With Trauma While Recovering From Addiction?

How Do I Cope With Trauma While Recovering From Addiction?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Addiction is a complex disorder, and it often has multiple causes. For some people, the underlying causes involve trauma, trauma symptoms, or trauma disorders. Therefore, when treatment facilities help a person cope with trauma, that person has a much better chance of remaining sober long-term.

Quite often, addiction co-exists with mental or emotional disorders that were caused by a traumatic event. When two or more disorders exist together, these are called co-occurring disorders. To increase the chances of long-lasting recovery, it is crucial to treat all disorders at hand. Fortunately, clients healing from addiction and trauma can find a variety of ways to cope with trauma in a safe and productive way.

At First Steps Recovery, we offer many ways for clients to find healing from trauma and co-occurring addictions. Our staff works with clients to curate personalized treatment plans that address all concerns and underlying causes. A whole-person approach is in full effect as clients learn to navigate life without feeling restrained by their disorders. A safe environment for healing is created to help all clients reach their full life potential.

Co-Occurring Disorders: Trauma Disorders and Addiction

Clients who have experienced trauma often have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A person with PTSD may experience flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and/or panic attacks. Trauma disorders such as PTSD can cause clients to turn to addictive substances for relief. This can then turn into habitual use and eventually abuse. In other words, clients with trauma can develop co-occurring disorders.

The effects of PTSD or other trauma-related disorders include:

  • Increased levels of cortisol and norepinephrine
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Avoidance of events or places
  • Alteration of mood (mood swings or emotional outbursts)
  • Distorted beliefs
  • Irritability
  • Reckless behavior
  • Flashbacks related to the traumatic event(s)
  • Problems with memory
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse

PTSD affects the part of the brain associated with stress, and it is important to address that part of the brain in treatment. It is also important to acknowledge that one’s mental health is influencing one’s addiction. Rather than treat the two disorders separately, clients and their specialists should treat disorders together to find the relationship between them.

As it is difficult for clients to stop using drugs and alcohol once they start, and it is best to seek professional help to start the healing process. While in addiction recovery, caring professionals help clients unveil any underlying causes of substance use. With First Steps Recovery, clients learn how to cope with traumas and ultimately find healing from them while also recovering from addiction.

Cope With Trauma While Recovering From Addiction

Addiction treatment that helps heal dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders is the most efficient way to address multiple factors of addiction and heal fully. All aspects of the addiction are handled, including the trauma disorder at hand. There are both clinical and holistic services that can benefit clients coping with trauma and addiction simultaneously.

A number of methods can help people cope with trauma, whether healing takes place in a clinical facility setting or on one’s own. Some of these methods include:

  • Seeking support from peers, family members, or other loved ones
  • Talking about the event(s) with others
  • Seeking professional help from a mental health professional
  • Engaging in trauma-focused therapy or trauma-informed care programs
  • Visiting self-help websites for ideas or more information
  • Practicing self-care regularly (such as journaling as a form of expression, meditation to ease stress on the body and mind, etc.)

Clinical Services For Co-Occurring Disorders

When coping with co-occurring disorders in a clinical setting, clients may engage in talk therapy. Traditional forms of talk therapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Both of these talk therapies work to help clients address their unhealthy patterns of thinking and discover how they correlate to destructive behaviors. Clients learn how to reconstruct their thinking to produce healthy behaviors. DBT is specific for clients who experience very overwhelming, intense emotions or have difficulty managing their emotions.

Clinical approaches to co-occurring disorder treatment should involve a trauma-informed approach. In trauma-informed sessions, clients talk about their experiences and examine how these experiences affect their thinking and behaviors. Brainspotting and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) are two clinical trauma-informed approaches.

Brainspotting uses spots in one’s field of vision to help one process trauma instead of remaining “stuck” in the traumatic event. EMDR uses rapid eye movements to help clients process traumatic memories. With EMDR there is a focus on changing clients’ emotions and thoughts regarding the memory.

What Is the Whole-Person Approach to Healing?

While clinical approaches are beneficial for co-occurring disorders, clients also benefit from engaging in whole-person healing. Holistic services can take a trauma-informed approach to care as well. The whole-person approach takes one’s entire lifestyle into consideration when healing from addiction or mental health disorders. Biological, behavioral, social, and environmental factors are all considered.

This approach focuses on healing the mind, body, emotions, and spirit as a whole. Rather than treat mental health and addiction as something that gets “repaired” or “fixed,” the client’s whole being is considered. Whole-person healing helps clients address every aspect of themselves to promote health, happiness, and fulfillment.

How Will a Whole-Person Approach Help Me Cope With Trauma?

At First Steps Recovery, a number of holistic care services promote the whole-person healing experience. These therapies include:

  • Art therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Music therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Wilderness therapy
  • Yoga

These nontraditional therapies are implemented into clients’ treatment plans to encourage healthy behaviors and outlets. For instance, during art and music therapies, clients learn how to express themselves creatively and develop a deeper understanding of themselves. In yoga and mindfulness therapies, clients develop more self-awareness and inner tranquility.

While each service at First Steps Recovery is offered to help promote this whole-person healing, the main goal is to help clients create a sustainable life of sobriety. Whole-person healing helps clients continue their healing journeys outside of the facility.

Here at First Steps Recovery, we encourage clients to engage in the whole-person approach to healing. Addressing the whole client, not just their addiction or mental health disorder, allows them to heal fully and sustain sobriety long-term. This approach to clinical and holistic healing happens at our facility in Clovis, California, in Fresno County. For clients coping with trauma and co-occurring disorders, a trauma-informed approach is used during clinical therapy sessions. Clients can also engage in holistic care like art, yoga, or music therapies to promote healing further. Finding healthy coping mechanisms for trauma and addiction is key. To learn more about how to cope with trauma and recover from addiction, please call First Steps Recovery at (844) 489-0836.

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